March 25 2013

Football trades supercars for electric cars

Nissan Leafs at New Lawn

While football clubs have a reputation for training ground car parks full of exotic sports cars and gas-guzzling 4x4s – Forest Green Rovers in Gloucestershire are trialling the use of 11 electric cars in an effort to slash carbon emissions by over 80 per cent.

The unique pilot study will use the fleet of 100 per cent electric Nissan LEAFs for players commuting to training from Birmingham, the Home Counties and across the West Country.

According to Forest Green chairman Dale Vince: “Travel is one of the biggest environmental impacts in football, with teams and fans across the country covering millions miles every season by car and coach.”

So it’s good news that electric cars are making their way into the sporting world. Even Sir Alex Ferguson has joined the green transport revolution, recently receiving the keys to his new Volt, as part of Chevrolet’s partnership with Manchester United.

Electric car trial

Meanwhile, in Gloucestershire, FGR worked out that their playing squad could cover almost 10,000 miles a week travelling to and from training. First off the players organised carpools to cut their emissions and were delighted to halve their fuel costs too. Now they’re trialling the Nissan Leafs.

“Cutting sport’s transport emissions is a vital step we need to take,” said Gary Neville, Sustainability Sport co-founder. “When it comes to the environment Forest Green Rovers play in a league of their own, but hopefully not for long – this is a great initiative, one which other clubs up and down Britain could and should follow.”

So far so good

When FGR manager, David Hockaday, took delivery of his LEAF a month before his team he soon became aware how uneconomical his normal diesel car is. He said: “I do thousands of miles throughout the season, going to training and games, but also travelling to other matches scouting opposition teams and players.

“I’ve had to change my driving style a bit, because frankly the way I drove my old car was completely uneconomical. This car’s brilliant, it looks great, and except for the fact it’s completely silent, you wouldn’t know it was an electric car. Not only are there no carbon emissions but it costs about 10 times less to refuel.
“Straight away I had players coming up to me asking: ‘Gaffer when do I get one’. That says it all.”

Plugging into the Electric Highway

The Electric Highway is the world’s first national motorway charging network, installed by Nissan and Ecotricity. The network is powered by Ecotricity – harnessing clean green energy from the Wind and the Sun – for zero emission driving.

But it isn’t just on motorways. FGR’s stadium has been fitted with a fast charger that can re-charge a Nissan LEAF to 80 per cent in less than 30 minutes, which is free for all to use – fans, supporters and passers-by. All you need is an electric vehicle (of course) and a free swipe card to access them. 

Who knows, you may even see Sir Alex recharging on his travels.  

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And here are the figures...

Baseline carbon footprint for FGR squad travelling to and from training four times a week for a 45-week season 141,674 kg CO₂
Carbon Footprint after carpooling 61,065 kg CO₂
Carbon Footprint with electric cars and carpooling 23,813 kg CO₂
Reduction in travel-fuel CO₂ emissions  83 per cent